New Landscape Artwork at Djerassi | Leonardo/ISAST

New Landscape Artwork at Djerassi

By Thomas Skalak



A new landscape artwork at Djerassi ranch. by Tom Skalak, 2018

Dedicated to the spirit of the people of this place,

Carl, Pamela, and Dale Djerassi, who once read this word with their own eyes,

Tim DeVoe, who designed the interface of post and earth,

Wade Watkins, who grew up beyond the ravine behind the watch-scape, running herds of cattle and thirty horses, amidst the California quail, wild turkey, and big cats,

Margot Knight, for her gifts of time and understanding.


Honoring the materials of this place, a historic SMIP ranch sign and weathered post, bearing nine bullet holes that recall other days of exuberance.


WATCH. was constructed by subtractive writing, removing three words by grinding to bare aluminum, and adding a single period, transforming the sign from the utilitarian into a gateway to transcendence.

The work invites artists, staff, and visitors to be still for a moment and to watch—the only portal available to us into our eternal connection to the earth and to other living things which grow upon it, extending our collective memories far back in time beyond our own ancestors.

In doing so, it provides some solace in the face of eternity. Watching provides the other which makes us whole.

We return from this place, and our watching, to the world—but we are changed forever, because we are now in possession of the profound awe available to those who WATCH.

Having possessed it, we may find peace.